If they were so passionately committed, he thought, he should give the issue more consideration himself.

The sleeping giant is one name for the public; when it wakes up, when we wake up, we are no longer only the public: we are civil society, the superpower whose nonviolent means are sometimes, for a shining moment, more powerful than violence, more powerful than regimes and armies. It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative.  US$28.00, US$12.38

Sometimes the earth closes over this moment and it has no obvious consequences; sometimes empires crumble and ideologies fall away like shackles. When you recognise uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Failures are more readily detected. —Walter Benjamin "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own." Brain Pickings has a free Sunday digest of the week's most interesting and inspiring articles across art, science, philosophy, creativity, children's books, and other strands of our search for truth, beauty, and meaning. Hope is grounded, therefore, in an understanding of the past as much as in uncertainty about the future.

We don’t know what is going to happen, or how, or when, and that very uncertainty is the space of hope. Or it should be.

Solnit celebrates the open-ended nature of change, citing the Native American deity Coyote: “The question, then, is not so much how to create the world as how to keep alive that moment of creation, how to realize that Coyote world in which creation never ends and people participate in the power of being creators, a world whose hopefulness lies in its unfinishedness, its openness to improvisation and participation.” Even now, in the midst of widespread suffering, the moment of creation is alive, as the years of work put in by the Movement for Black Lives and other organizations, collectives, and activists are resulting in changed minds, defunded police departments, and a remade public landscape, as Solnit points out in a recent essay continuing the themes of Hope in the Dark. Most of the great victories continue to unfold, unfinished in the sense that they are not yet fully realized, but also in the sense that they continue to spread influence.

Memory of joy and liberation can become a navigational tool, an identity, a gift. Most of us would say, if asked, that we live in a capitalist society, but vast amounts of how we live our everyday lives – our interactions with and commitments to family lives, friendships, avocations, membership in social, spiritual and political organisations – are in essence noncapitalist or even anticapitalist, made up of things we do for free, out of love and on principle. And Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, early on described the movement’s mission as to “Provide hope and inspiration for collective action to build collective power to achieve collective transformation, rooted in grief and rage but pointed towards vision and dreams”.

You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings. Meanwhile, Solnit argues in a poignant parallel, such amnesia poisons and paralyzes our collective conscience by the same mechanism that depression poisons and paralyzes the private psyche — we come to believe that the acute pain of the present is all that will ever be and cease to believe that things will look up. You felt that the threat of male violence was so pervasive that at times you wanted to become invisible: is that what the title is about?I think there’s a dread and a constant presence in your imagination if you’re a young woman, of: “I can’t wear this, I can’t go here, I can’t be out at this hour, I can’t trust this person, I have to watch whether this will lead to something uncomfortable or dangerous.” I wanted to connect that to the broader question of how this particular form of assault on women’s agency and choice also takes place in other more polite arenas, like publishing.  US$12.97, US$10.98 Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. News cycles tend to suggest that change happens in small, sudden bursts or not at all. Here's an example.  US$12.97, US$10.90 Solnit — one of the most singular, civically significant, and poetically potent voices of our time, emanating echoes of Virginia Woolf’s luminous prose and Adrienne Rich’s unflinching political conviction — originally wrote these essays in 2003, six weeks after the start of Iraq war, in an effort to speak “directly to the inner life of the politics of the moment, to the emotions and preconceptions that underlie our political positions and engagements.” Although the specific conditions of the day may have shifted, their undergirding causes and far-reaching consequences have only gained in relevance and urgency in the dozen years since.

The acclaimed US essayist on ‘ambient harassment’, freeing women’s voices – and why she’s looking forward to a date with Mary Beard, Last modified on Mon 23 Mar 2020 06.14 EDT.

 US$16.87, US$15.60 And the changes we’ve undergone, both wonderful and terrible, are astonishing. © 2013 – 2020 Rebecca Solnit. Laurie Colwin and the Power of Domesticity, Sculpting Flesh From Text in My Body is a Book of Rules. This has been a truly remarkable decade for movement-building, social change and deep shifts in ideas, perspective and frameworks for large parts of the population (and, of course, backlashes against all those things). We despair.

And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. There are major movements that failed to achieve their goals; there are also comparatively small gestures that mushroomed into successful revolutions. Literary Productivity, Visualized, 7 Life-Learnings from 7 Years of Brain Pickings, Illustrated, Anaïs Nin on Love, Hand-Lettered by Debbie Millman, Anaïs Nin on Real Love, Illustrated by Debbie Millman, Susan Sontag on Love: Illustrated Diary Excerpts, Susan Sontag on Art: Illustrated Diary Excerpts, Albert Camus on Happiness and Love, Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering Oliver Sacks, marvelous meditation on the pursuit of happiness, hope, cynicism, and the stories we tell ourselves, every major scientific revolution that has changed our world, notoriously short-sighted view of social change, scientific studies and illustrations of mushrooms, depression poisons and paralyzes the private psyche, how modern noncommunication is changing our experience of time, solitude, and communion. Reading the book, I kept wishing for an endlessly branching wiki version of the text, which collaborators could keep updating with each new reversal or development; after all, even these negative reversals in Brazil and Burma aren’t the end of the story. That is what governs us. Uprisings and revolutions are often considered to be spontaneous, but less visible long-term organizing and groundwork — or underground work — often laid the foundation. The status quo would like you to believe it is immutable, inevitable and invulnerable, and lack of memory of a dynamically changing world reinforces this view. We write history with our feet and with our presence and our collective voice and vision. Full engagement requires the ability to perceive both. The attack on civil liberties, including the right to privacy, continues long after its “global war on terror” justifications have faded away. But again and again, far stranger things happen than the end of the world. It seems insignificant or peripheral until very different outcomes emerge from transformed assumptions about who and what matters, who should be heard and believed, who has rights.


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An activist, columnist and cultural historian, she has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lannan Literary Award.  US$23.72, US$25.84

It won its liberty because of valiant struggle from within, but also because of dedicated groups on the outside who pressured and shamed the governments supporting the Indonesian regime.

Disaster is a lot like revolution: disruption and improvisation, and an exhilarating sense that anything is possible. A once-radical idea, if realized, can “come to look like it always was a good idea, and the first person to have espoused it will be forgotten, since they were kooks, extremists, and impractical dreamers.” This amnesia can make people unaware of how change actually happens. The other affliction amnesia brings is a lack of examples of positive change, of popular power, evidence that we can do it and have done it. A victory doesn’t mean that everything is now going to be nice forever and we can therefore all go and lounge around until the end of time. With great care, Solnit — whose mind remains the sharpest instrument of nuance I’ve encountered — maps the uneven terrain of our grounds for hope: It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine.